Why I moved
I made the decision last week to move this site from Media Temple to something else. Anything else. Without getting too detailed, suffice it to say that the (gs) service has been crap lately (e.g., recently, my site and email were defunct for two full days).
To Media Temple's credit, they are as transparent and forthcoming as any webhost I've ever used (see, for example, this piece they did in response to the aforementioned two-day incident), but that conspicuousness has at least one downside too, namely over-exposure of faults.
It became all too common to see posts on the (mt) status page regarding some system hiccup or failure, which naturally would cause me to do some investigating of my own, which inevitably would cause me to become upset after realizing that some service was inaccessible, email was broken, site was terribly slow, etc.
It's definitely a fine line these large hosting companies have to walk between transparency and bad publicity, and I don't envy the public-facing decisions they have to make every single day, so again, MT must be applauded for their openness.
That said, openness does not a solid host make, and at some point you just have to cut bait and run, so that's exactly what I did.
Where I ended up
I knew I wanted to go the VPS (virtual private/dedicated server)1 route — the idea of total control and the ‘impossibility' of over-selling (there's only so much RAM on each machine) really excited me — but I wasn't sure with which provider I should jump into bed. It was a big decision, one that I most certainly didn't take lightly, and after a lot of research I decided to go with Slicehost (a 512MB slice, for those wondering).
The two other options I considered were a Joyent Accelerator and a Media Temple (dv)2. A big problem I had with both of these was the price; my 512MB slice is $38/month, whereas Joyent doesn't even offer a 512MB option (just 256MB or 1GB), and both Joyent's and Media Temple's 256MB configurations are $45 and $50/month, respectively.
More than price though, it was the overwhelmingly positive reviews that really tipped the scales in Slicehost's favor; in addition, random solicitations to the Twitterverse for hosting providers always effected effusive recommendations for the recent Rackspace acquisition. After all I had read and been told about the company, I felt compelled to give them my money.
Not a minute after making that decision I received an email with my new IP address and the root password for my slice. I spent all day Saturday setting up my new home (i.e., installing and configuring SSH, Apache, PHP, MySQL, etc.) and waiting for various DNS records to propagate through the tubes.
With respect to email, I played around with a few different things, but ultimately settled on Google Apps for Business. The setup actually was surprisingly simple: 1) sign up for the service, 2) convince Google that you own the domain, and 3) change your MX records to point to Google's mail exchangers. Boom! You've got email.
You likely (hopefully!) won't notice anything different about the site, except that it's SO MUCH FASTER now.
How I lasted this long with shared hosting I'll never know. I mean, really. I suspect it was a confluence of trepidation and fabricated complacency. ↩
I realize it may seem odd that I would consider the provider with whom I'd recently had so much trouble, but Media Temple's dedicated-virtual offering is a different beast entirely, and by nearly all accounts is a wonderful service. ↩